Community Engagement for the Ottawa Hospital Campus Expansion

By Bhagwant Sandhu and Sue Stefko, Campus Engagement Group members
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, September 2019)

After many years of back and forth decision-making, the three levels of government jointly announced in 2016 that The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus would be replaced by a new facility at the eastern side of the Central Experimental Farm, in the vicinity of Carling Avenue, Preston Street and Prince of Wales Drive. Once operational, the new hospital is expected to make a notable impact on nearby communities – built on 50 acres of land, it will have more space than the existing Civic Campus to enable it to accommodate the health-care needs of Ottawa and eastern Ontario’s growing and changing population.

In 2018, the Hospital assembled a 22-member Campus Engagement Group (CEG) to help plan for the new campus, and to ensure community perspectives would be considered. The two of us were selected to represent the Dow’s Lake Resident’s Association, the Glebe Community Association, and the Glebe Annex Community Association.

The CEG’s other members represent different neighbourhoods and interests, including representatives for patients and families, surrounding neighbourhoods, the Central Experimental Farm, the site’s heritage, the environment, accessibility, as well as several “institutional partners,” such as The Ottawa Hospital itself, the City of Ottawa, and the National Capital Commission. The CEG’s deliberations are one part of a multi-faceted community engagement process, which also includes activities such as community engagement events and online consultations.

Planning for the new campus is in its very early stages. The CEG is presently deliberating, for instance, ways to ensure the best trade-offs between green space and parking. The vision for the new campus is for it to be a state-of-the-art medical facility that includes research and education components, but more than that, to also be fully integrated with and respectful of the community it serves.

As the CEG’s discussions proceed, it has become clear that some of the most important decisions will lie with the City of Ottawa (e.g. final approval of the site’s zoning). The City is also developing a new Official Plan, which envisions making Ottawa the most livable mid-sized city in North America. The CEG is proposing to make the new campus project a flagship of the Official Plan by incorporating two principles: one, good urban design as a key contributor to a healthy community; and two, the right approach to community engagement as a key contributor to good design.

While it has been some time since the hospital has engaged the community at large, work continues behind the scenes. A pre-qualification process is underway to select companies who will be hired to complete studies in a number of areas. These include the heritage aspects of the site, the site plan, servicing, and transportation.

Work on these studies is expected to begin by November. This work will help further refine the architectural plans that were unveiled in the beginning of 2018. There is still a number of years before construction is expected to get underway, however – currently the hospital plans to open the new facility in 2026 or 2027. We plan to keep the community updated with regular progress reports as this process unfolds.

 

Photos: Courtesy of Ottawa Hospital (image of the current Civic Hospital campus, and the future hospital site)